Saturday, July 10, 2010

A Slice of Goodness

Each morning at tables and benches across this nation, bleary eyed contestants aspire to accomplish a task commonly blundered by amateurs. Far from a reward for some innate gift, the prize recognises in the successful a skill that has taken a lifetime to nurture. I am speaking-of course-of the elusive triumph of spreading butter on toast, crumpets or muffins with minimal wastage of their heavenly, crunchy outer coating.

Though it may sound like a whimsical premise for a blog, indeed the problem of the perfectly portioned slice of butter without an incursion of pesky toast crumbs on the remnant butter block has surely existed for millennia. The method of slicing the butter, though, has evolved.

c. 2005 The "One Click" Butter Cutter
The butter cutter (left) is one of the newest, and arguably the least necessary, of utensils crafted for cutting butter. With a simple click a perfectly portioned butter section falls from the device.

Is this the best invention since sliced bread?
I surely hope not.

Image Source:

Factory Butter Cutters

Other machines were used in the past that enabled workers at butter factories to manually slice large butter blocks into marketable portions (in imperial terms- half pound portions). These butter slicers most commonly worked by moulding the butter onto the basic, and then forcing down the upper frame which had a grid of steel wires. This would slice the block into half pound portions which could then be wrapped in waxed paper and sold. One common design of the butter cutter was sold

The Burwood Butter Cutter, pat. Caudle & Caudle, re-patented June 18th, 1915 [Pat.No. 11815].

A butter cutter with a very similar design is collected by the Berry Museum and in my experience this particular item of dairy machinery is rarely found in local museums.

Image Source:
Anthony Horden & Sons, 1924, p. 850

But the award for the most interesting butter cutter in terms of functionality and appearance undoubtedly goes to one collected by the Gippsland Heritage Park in Victoria. The butter cutter is mentioned in a recent blog titled "Commercial Dairying Equipment". See link below;

1 comment:

  1. How very interesting. In a strange coincidence, we were at training last week, and up flashed picture in the presentation of another museum, with what appeared to be a home-made butter-cutter like ours, in front of a butter salter that appeared exactly the same as ours.

    Have posted the salter over at

    We were wondering if you had seen many of them around?

    Think I might go over to Volunteer Run Australian Museums on facebook, and see if there are any more there